WASHINGTON, May 30, 2019--The World Bank Board of Executive Directors today approved an International Development Association (IDA)* grant of $75 million to support the government of Benin’s efforts to improve the management of forests, increase access to fuelwood in the main cities, and to strengthen non-timber forest product value chains for forest-dependent communities.
The Gazetted Forests Management Project targets 11 forest reserves in Benin covering 917,951 hectares, representing 63 percent of the total surface area (1,457,247 ha) of the country’s 46 gazetted forests. To address challenges identified in the forestry sector, the project will set up a combination of incentive-based agroforestry schemes, agricultural intensification, bush fire control, establishment of fuelwood plantations on degraded gazetted forest lands, to increase fuelwood production and meet the energy needs of high-consumption urban hubs. It also includes efficient production of charcoal, transhumance management, and Non-Timber Forest Product (NTFP) value chain development.
“Despite a robust institutional context for management of the forestry sector, the decrease of Benin’s forest, particularly over the decade from 2007-2016, is concerning. National forest coverage, estimated at 8.12 million hectares in 2007 fell to 7.9 million hectares in 2016, a loss of over 215,000 hectares. There is a need for action to reverse the trend”, said Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Benin.
To reverse the deforestation and degradation trends related to fuelwood collection from gazetted forest, the project will finance the establishment of sustainably managed fuelwood production forests, to help reduce the demand from Benin’s major wood energy consumption cities--Cotonou, Abomey-Calavi and Porto-Novo. A total of 15,000 hectares of Acacia plantations will be developed. Farmers settled in gazetted forests will be able to implement the taungya system - a method of intercropping where agricultural crops such as maize, peanut and soya are interspersed among acacia trees. They will be incentivized through a performance-based contract with the project to participate in plantation works from nursery establishment to planting and maintenance of the acacia plantations. Pastoralists will be equally involved in this incentive mechanism.
“This integrated and participative "win-win" situation for local communities will not only provide alternative incomes, but it will also make them key players in sustainable forest management. It will contribute to addressing transhumance, as pastoralists become key actors in forest management”, added Katrina Sharkey, World Bank Country Manager for Benin.
The Gazetted Forests Management Project contributes to the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework for Benin for 2018-2023, in line with the World Bank’s Forest Action Plan (2016-2020). It is also aligned with the Benin National Strategy and Action Plan on Biodiversity (2011-2020) which focuses on the sustainable restoration of vegetation cover to meet the country's climate challenge.
* The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives. IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 75 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa. Resources from IDA bring positive change to the 1.5 billion people who live in IDA countries. Since 1960, IDA has supported development work in 113 countries. Annual commitments have averaged about $18 billion over the last three years, with about 54 percent going to Africa.